eClass Support
Setting Up Groups
Last modified on 09 September 2022 10:04 AM

Groups are the functional units within which students work and participate in different eClass activities. Activities that have groups enabled allow administrative users to filter contributions with three different group modes:

  • No groups: All students can view and participate in the activity.
  • Separate groups: Only students within the same group can see and participate together in this group activity.
  • Visible groups: Students can see all other group's activities, but can only participate in their own group's activity.

There are 2 steps to setting up groups: 1) building the groups you want to use, and 2) setting the group mode on the particular activity or content in your course that you want group participation on.

Creating Groups

    New in 2018, there are 2 ways to access the groups area in a course:

  1. Click Participants in the left nav drawer, then on the gear icon, and select Groups.

    Or, click the gear icon at the top right of the course, then click on More. On the page that opens, select the Users tab, then click on Groups.

  2. On the Groups page, you will see two columns: the left (groups) lists the different groups in your course, and the right (members of) shows the members in whichever group is highlighted.

  3. Click the Create group button on the left beneath the Groups column.
  4. Complete the form with your group information.
    • "Group name": Name your group; for example, 'Group 1'.
    • "Group description": Give your group a description so you can better remember what this group was defined for.

  5. Click the Save changes button when you are finished.

Manually Adding Users

  1. To manually add users to your group, click on the name of the group you just created in the Groups column to select it, then click the Add/remove users button beneath the Members column.

  2. On the Add/remove users page, you will again see two columns: the left (Group members) shows the current members of your group, and the right (Potential members) shows the people enrolled in your course.
  3. Click on a user's name to select them (highlighted in blue), then click the Add button between the two columns to move them into your group.

  4. You may also use the Shift key to select a block of users (click user, hold Shift, click another user). Or, you can use the Control key (Ctrl) (or Command key (Cmd) on a Mac) to select multiple users that are not in a row (hold Ctrl while selecting multiple users).
  5. If there are too many users to show all at once, you may be prompted to use the Search box below to narrow the list of potential members.
  6. When you are done adding users to the group, click Back to groups at the bottom of the page.

Auto-Creating Groups

As an alternative to manually creating groups, you can have the system automatically create groups for you. You can do this when it does not matter which students are in which groups.

  1. Click the Auto-create groups button under the Groups column.

  2. This will take you to a form that will allow you to specify either the number of groups you would like to create, or the number of members you would like to have in each group.
    • "Naming scheme": Use @ to differentiate by letters, or # to differentiate by numbers. For example, Group @ = Group A, Group B, Group C. Alternately, Team # = Team 1, Team 2, Team 3.
    • "Auto create based on": Choose either 'Number of groups' or 'Members per group'.
    • "Group/member count": Specify the number of groups or number of members per group.
    • "Select members with role": Select a particular role if you want to pull only users enrolled in your course in that role. Example: you could use this to create a group out of all the TAs. in your course.
    • "Select members from grouping": Select students already belonging to a group in the given grouping. Example: you could use this if you wanted to take a specific grouping and create a larger group out of all the smaller groups currently assigned to the grouping.
    • "Select members from group: Select students already belonging to the given group. Example: you could use this if you wanted to take existing larger groups and further break them down into random smaller groups.
    • "Allocate members": Randomly, alphabetical (by first or last name), by ID number.
    • "Prevent last small group": Check this box to distribute members to existing groups as evenly as possible. This could especially be needed if you have specified the number of groups (as opposed to members per group)
    • "Ignore users in groups": Check this box to have users already belonging to a group not be assigned to additional new auto-created groups.
    • "Grouping of auto-created groups": If you would like to add these groups to a grouping, you can do so here.
    • "Grouping name": If you are adding this group to a new grouping, specify the name of the grouping.

  3. Once you are done, you can Preview the groups or Submit to save.

Upon returning to the Groups page after having created your groups, you will notice a number in parentheses after each of your group names - this indicates the number of members currently in each group.

Setting group conditions on course content

To restrict viewing and participation on activities using the groups you have created, you have to set the Group mode for that activity.

  1. Go to your course and Turn editing on button near the top right.

  2. Enter the settings for an activity or resource and choose your Group mode under the Common module settings.

  3. Save when you are done.
  4. Once you have specified a group mode in the Common module settings, an icon that looks like a shadowy figure will appear beside the Edit dropdown box to the right of each activity. Clicking this icon will toggle through the various group modes (See Group modes and examples below).

Group Mode Examples for Forums

No groups: Choosing ‘No groups’ for a Forum activity will allow all members of the course to view the forum, as well as post new discussions and replies, regardless of what group they belong to. This is always chosen for every activity by default.

  • Example: Help forum (no groups) - Anyone in the class can post a question, respond and see all discussions.

Separate groups: Choosing ‘Separate groups’ for a Forum activity will essentially create separate discussion rooms for each individual group. Course participants can only see and post to their own group's discussion; all other group's discussions are completely invisible.

  • Example: Graded group discussion (separate groups) - These forums will be graded by group so you cannot see any other group's discussion points.

Visible groups: Choosing ‘Visible groups’ for Forum activities will create separate discussion rooms for each individual group that can be viewed by all participants in the course. However, participants will only be able to post and reply to forums set aside for their own group.

  • Example: Group project discussion (visible groups) - These forums are set up for students to discuss their group projects, but all have different topics so they can read about what other groups are doing but can only contribute to their own.

Running multiple course sections in a single eClass course: You can run multiple course sections in a single eClass course and vary the activities while keeping the static content the same by using groups.

  • Example: A group is automatically generated for each of the sections in a combined course. You can create a Wiki on Topic One restricted to Group A1 and a Wiki on Topic Two restricted to Group A2. Each student will only see the Wiki Topic of the group they belong to (either A1 or A2). Meanwhile, the syllabus (which is group independent) can be seen by all students.


  • Assigning the group modes listed above will split activities and resources amongst ALL the groups in your course. If you want to shuffle group members for different interactions throughout the term, you need to use groupings - for information on doing this, see the article Setting up Groupings.
  • To limit a specific activity or resource to only the members of a particular group, you will need to set Access restrictions instead of using the group mode.
  • For eClass courses containing combined sections, a group will be automatically created for each individual section in the course (eg. a group each for LEC A1, and LEC A2).
  • Any activity in eClass can be set so that it uses visible groups (groups can see each other), separate groups (groups cannot see each other's work) or no groups. In these scenarios, the SAME activity is delivered to students along one of these methods (for giving each group access to their own separate activity or content, you must use Access restrictions).
  • Ensure that you establish your group settings before your students begin participating in any activities where groups are being used. It is very problematic to change group modes (visible, invisible, no groups) once once students have begun to work in the activity. For example, if you set up a discussion forum and posts are made before any group settings are set, after you go back to enable groups for the forum activity, those posts made before the change are replicated in to all groups’ forums.
  • You may wish to have groups set by default for your entire course - you can do this in your course settings. This does not automatically apply the group settings to already existing activities and resources but does apply them to any new ones created. The other benefit from setting a group mode at the course level is that the gradebook can be sorted based on sub-section groups. See Filtering Your Gradebook by Groups for more information.
  • Students can be members of more than one group.
  • Switching a student from one group to another will remove their ability to see posts made to the first group forum while a member of that group (unless you have Visible groups enabled). That is, if Student Five was originally a member of Group A, he will not be able to view any posts or replies he made in Group A’s discussion forum after he is moved to Group B, unless the instructor has set the forum activity to Visible groups.  
  • If a user is not in a group, they will be unable to view or participate in any group activities if group mode is set to Separate groups. If Group mode is set to Visible groups, students not placed in a group will be able to view discussions across all groups, but will be unable to contribute.
  • Instead of auto-creating or constructing groups by hand, it is also possible to have students self-select their group using an additional block in your course - see Using the Group Sign-up Block.
  • WARNING in regards to Group AssignmentsOnce submissions have been made, DO NOT alter the groups or groupings in any way. If groups or groupings need to be updated or changed, we recommend that you create new groups/groupings and re-deploy the assignment with the updated group settings. Failure to do so will result in lost student submission data and glitches with the assignment review.
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